A surprise podium in Perth
If you watched Sunday’s 83-lap race in Perth and felt a little bit baffled, or maybe confused, post-race you’d be forgiven – it was a race that saw a huge shake-up across the field.
After failing to make it through to the second round of the new qualifying format, Craig Lowndes had to settle with a start from 25th position on the grid – just in front of his mate Garth Tander.
Taking to the grid with 24 fast cars ahead of you is not a challenge not many would relish – except Lowndesy. He was savouring the opportunity to just put his foot down and get the job done.
“I said to Irish (Race Engineer John McGregor) before I jumped into the car; ‘I’ll drive the wheels off it, you call the shots and let’s see where we end up’,” Lowndes told Speedcafe.com.
“We were hoping to be back inside the 10 if we could, and that was our goal.”
Sure enough, Lowndesy smashed that goal to take out third place.
Lowndesy holds the record for the most wins at Barbagallo Raceway so it’s no secret his Perth game is strong, but to blitz the field 22 positions and come out with a podium is not something many would have predicted – not even Craig himself.
“No (we didn’t think a podium was on the cards),” continued Lowndes.
“We went into the race already not thinking that we could get a podium but definitely to get back for points. Whenever you have a bad day you’ve just got to minimise the damage.”
The race started with a safety car on lap three, moments before Lowndes started to make his epic fight back up the field. He reached as high as fifth position by lap 28 before pit stops slowed his way straight to the top.
The lack of pace in qualifying was a blessing in disguise when the team had a set of green tyres up their sleeves and, as a result, Lowndes was in third position by lap 57. The final pit stop on lap 60 only put him back 10 places – 10 places that he was able to recover within 21 laps.
From back row to podium was the result of pure grit and determination from the team and Lowndesy was quick to acknowledge their efforts post-race.
“To be honest the car was really good. They (the team) work damned hard to get the cars rolling out every weekend, and the only way we can pay them back is in results,” he added.
“You can’t go from the back of the grid to anywhere in this field unless you’ve got a really fast car under you, and we did.”